Welcome back to That’s What Pea Said…
Without a doubt, social media has become a staple component in many of our lives. When the Internet came into fruition almost 30years ago, I wonder if its creators had even had the slightest inkling as to how much society would become dependant upon its service? Personally, I think it’s a frightening thought just how much as a society has become dependent upon its services, is there anything which we can’t use it for? Relaxing pastimes have become digitalised; relationships have become depersonalised, bullying has become desensitised and with these developments, society has changed its expectations of our behaviour and distorted our realities.
It’s safe to say, I have no questions as to whether or not the Internet is beneficial to our society… Of course it is; it allows individuals to communicate and connect with each other, administrate and manage their lives, share their stories, raise awareness for valued causes and fuel their brains with all sorts of wonderful information, however – it’s important not to ignore the darker side of the internet and most importantly, the effect which it has on our mental health and wellbeing. Social media can be a fabulous and productive tool, providing users don’t abuse the platforms and in turn affect both their health and the health of others.
Here are some unhealthy social media habits which you ought to avoid…
☞ Phubbing: A term to describe spending time on your smartphone whilst in the presence of others, especially a romantic partner/ love interest. Psychologist Dr. Joseph Cilona reported: “Time spent engaged in texting, email, social media and the like is an increasingly common cause of conflict in modern relationships.”
☞ Spending more time online, than with real people: It’s great to have healthy online relationships with friends and like minded people, after all it’s called ‘social’ media and this can be a great boost to your mood… However, it’s so important to ensure you communicate frequently with friends and family offline.
☞ Forgetting work boundaries: I cannot stress the importance of this enough. With social media encouraging users to add the whole world and their wife, I’m sure that most of us have connected to at least one colleague on one of more social media platforms. When sending multiple friend requests, it’s important to remember that not everybody you work with has to be your friend and this doesn’t mean that you dislike each-other, it’s about maintaining a respectful work-life balance. Furthermore, depending on your industry, if social media is how you connect with clients and colleagues, it’s important to respect their boundaries and appreciate that although they’re contactable 24/7, this doesn’t mean you should contact them 24/7…
☞ Using social media because you’re lonely: This is an easy trap to fall into, if you’re feeling lonely and in need of company, you can start a convo with a simple click, or a swipe… It’s important to be careful that you’re not doing this as it may be misleading to others who think you have genuine intentions with them.
☞ Checking your notifications whilst driving: not only is this dangerous, it’s illegal.
☞ Posting with people who prefer privacy: People opt for different privacy settings for a number of reasons and it’s important to always respect this. Whether you feel that their reason is valid or not, it’s important to their wellbeing and should not be dismissed or taken lightly… You could be putting their safety at risk.
☞ Using social media during meals: This is a rude habit to start and unless you’re expecting and important call/message, there isn’t really an excuse for using your phone during mealtime… Embrace the time-out.
☞ Scrolling before bed: Studies have shown that it’s not healthy to use technology or view screens whilst in bed (phones, televisions, computers). Using your phone in bed doesn’t give you or your brain time-out and keeps your brain active whilst you should be trying to wind-down, rest and recover for the next day.
☞ Logging on whilst doing other things: It might not seem like multitasking is having a detrimental effect on the main task at hand, however – it’s thought that constantly trying to do more than one thing at a time can cause your brain to be in a constant state of distraction, which in turn has a negative effect on the brain.
☞ Documenting your every move: This habit is unhealthy for a number of reasons. By documenting your every move, you are probably sharing much more personal information than you realise, which increases your chances of having your personal information replicated or gathered by individuals who have a more sinister agenda. In addition to this, documenting your every move does not allow you to enjoy the moment in a wholesome manner, instead everything is filtered though your smartphone & technology screens.
The following behaviours are more serious and are not only harmful to yourself, but to others:
☞ Using social media to seek another’s personal information: Using social media to seek the personal information of another individual is particularly common as a stalking behaviour. In stalking cases, perpetrators will use social media to monitor their victims whereabouts. In addition to this, they will use social media to seek information about their victim, including their place of work, friends, family and relationship history. If you feel that you are using social media in this manner and feel unable to stop, it’s important to reach out and seek help, before your behaviours escalate. If you feel you are at risk, contact the police.
☞ Judging your worth and value on likes: If you judge your worth and value on the number of likes and comments your uploads receive, you’re inevitably going to be very disappointed and unhappy… Social media only represents a tiny fraction of how others perceive you and many users manipulate the way in which their content is received. Some users buy likes and followers, does this mean they’re more successful than you? Absolutely not! This is a negative habit, which if you’re a slave to, you need to shake off.
☞ Comparing yourself to others: Following on from the above, if you compare yourself to others, you will never feel successful. Within all aspects of life, everybody is running a difference race and travelling at their own speed, with the intention of reaching a different final destination… Focus on yourself and your goals.
☞ Cyberstalking/Digitally Enabled Stalking: This variation of stalking, is a criminal offence which involves an individual using the internet or other electronic means to stalk and/or harass an individual or group of people. These behaviours include (but are not limited to): false accusations, defamation, slander and libel. Additional behaviours include monitoring, identity theft (see above) threats and seeking personal information which is often accompanied by offline stalking… If you feel that you are using social media in this manner and feel unable to stop, it’s important to reach out and seek help, before your behaviours escalate.
If you feel you are at risk, contact the police.
You can read more information about stalking behaviours and accessing support here:
☞ Online Harrassment and Cyberbullying: Online Harassment is a method of bullying which is instigated via the internet and using mobile devices. Online harassment has the potential to cause social and psychological impact to victims and online bullying behaviours may include the following: sending insults and threatening messages, posting unkind and inappropriate messages online, sharing someones personal or embarrassing information online, creating hate sites to isolate individuals, sharing unflattering and personal images (including nudes), impersonating an individuals identity to represent them in a negative manner and for not strategic reason, continuously attacking them in online gaming.
A more recent and underhand method of online bullying/harassment is subtweeting, predominantly prevalent within school children and teenagers. Subtweeting is the internet equivalent of talking about someone behind their back. The development of subtweeting is one of the more insidious digital trends started within recent years. Subtweeting is a common method of harassment used when the perpetrator/bully has been explicitly told not to contact the victim directly or to refer to them in an identifiable manner.
If you feel that somebody is using the internet to harass you, please contact the police.
Boundaries are a frequent topic of discussion within the mental health community.. Setting boundaries is paramount when protecting your energies and mental wellbeing. There are a numbers of ways in which an individual can make it clear that they do not/no longer wish to be contacted, these include: simply saying no, asking another person to say no on their behalf, not responding to contact and by blocking and deleting. Boundaries are set for a reason and its important to be aware of the boundaries you set and the boundaries which others put into place. If you’re unable to accept boundaries, ask yourself ‘why’… You can read more about boundaries and their importance here:
I appreciate some of these habits are more detrimental to your wellbeing than others, if you feel like you’re affected by any of the above, please do not hesitate to seek additional support and advice.
Thanks for reading